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KPN: its finest hour and after

KPN sign and Henderson: having risen impressively to the
challenge of debt reduction KPN may soon need to raise
capex to secure future profits

Maarten Henderson, CFO of Dutch telco KPN, ended 2002 on a high note. On December 5, Standard & Poor's upgraded the company from BBB- to BBB, praising its deleveraging efforts. It had cut net debt from e22 billion at the end of September 2001 to e13.9 billion in just a year and had improved operational performance. By December 30, Henderson was celebrating the birth of a new baby daughter. And 2003 also got off to a promising start when, at a time when Deutsche Telekom was being punished by a two-notch downgrade by Moody's in January, the rating agency changed the outlook on the KPN's Baa3 rating to positive.

Rewind some 17 months to September 2001 and the situation for Henderson and KPN could not have been more different. Faced with a mountain of debt after the industry-wide spending spree in 2000 on 3G licences, KPN looked as if it was going to be downgraded to sub-investment grade.

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